• job rotation;
  • prevention;
  • interventions;
  • recovery;
  • musculoskeletal complaints;
  • low back pain;
  • sickness absence;
  • occupational epidemiology;
  • refuse collecting



Job rotation might be an effective preventive measure to reduce the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints, although its effect has not been yet established. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effect of job rotation in refuse collecting on need for recovery, prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints, and sick leave due to musculoskeletal complaints.


A 1-year prospective study among refuse collectors was performed, using standardized questionnaires. Job rotation was performed between collecting two-wheeled containers and driving a refuse truck. The experimental groups of rotating refuse collectors at t0 and t1 (group R-R) and non-rotating refuse collectors at t0 and rotating refuse collectors at t1 (group NR-R) were compared with a reference group of non-rotating refuse collectors at t0 and t1 (group NR-NR).


The adjusted need for recovery of group R-R was marginally significantly lower than need for recovery of the reference group. Groups R-R and NR-R had a more than two times higher risk for complaints of the low back than the reference group. No other significant results were found.


Job rotation seemed to coincide with a reduced need for recovery and was associated with an increased risk of low back complaints. No effects were found on sick leave due to musculoskeletal complaints. The results might be influenced by the healthy worker selection effect in the reference group and its inverse in the rotating groups. Am. J. Ind. Med. 47:394–402, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.